Now showing at the Duke of York's
Duke of York's history
From the outside
With its broad façade, pale stone, sweeping columns and pretty rows of intricate windows, the Duke of York’s theatre was the first of three theatres to be built on St Martin’ Lane in 1892, during the heyday of West End theatre building, between 1890 and 1935. On the inside its rich, lush raspberry walls and the circle’s ornate carvings give it a proper traditional theatre feel.
Duke of York’s Theatre architecture and history
Designed by Walter Emden for Frank Wyatt and his wife Violet Melnotte, the Duke of York's Theatre was built back in 1892, right at the end of the Victorian era. Before that St Martin’s Lane was merely a muddy track, difficult to imagine these days as the traffic streams past. Later joined by the Albery Theatre and the Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane now enjoys three top West End theatres.
Originally called the Trafalgar Square Theatre, it became the Duchess in 1895 in honour of King George Fifth, three years after opening. In 1897 Mrs Melnotte let the theatre to an American, Charles Frohman, known at the time as The Napoleon of the Theatre. Needless to say, with a nickname like that he soon turned it into a popular, prestigious and highly profitable venture!
Over the decades the Duchess Theatre has seen famous names like Charlie Chaplin, who debuted in the play Sherlock Holmes in 1904 aged just fourteen. Marie Tempest, Ellen Terry, John Gielgud and Al Pacino also played there, thrilling audiences night after night.
Apparently the composer Puccini saw a production of Madame Butterfly there, was inspired to write his opera of the same name, which was eventually performed at the Duke of York’s three decades later.
After Frohman died on the Lusitania, a ship sunk during the First World War, the theatre became home to a number of opera, ballet and dance companies, enduring particularly troubled times in the 1950s until, in 1979, Capital Radio bought and refurbished it. Reopened in 1980 and restored to its former glory, it has been home to a run of highly successful productions ever since.
Hauntings at the Duke of York’s theatre!
Like many West End theatres, the Duke of York’s has its own ghost. Apparently, the spirit of that long-ago theatre lover Violet Melnotte, who died in the 1930s, has been heard in the box she frequented, as well as being spotted backstage occasionally in the theatre’s spooky green room.
Past shows at the Duke of York’s Theatre
The Duke of York’s Theatre has hosted any number of top shows including Rose, American Buffalo and The Weir, Stones In His Pockets, Rock'n'Roll, Rent and No Man's Land. More recently, Ghost Stories terrified thousands.
Duke of York’s Theatre access
The Duke of Yorks offers an infrared hearing loop and access for wheelchairs and scooters.
Duke of York’s Theatre tickets
We’re a trusted destination for a wide variety of seat types and prices, with excellent availability on the full range of Duke of York’s theatre tickets.
Duke of York's
104 St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG
- Air conditioned
- Disabled toilets
- Infrared hearing loop
- Member of Q-Park scheme
- Wheelchair/scooter access
- Capacity: 659
- Year built: 1892